Archive for the ‘Characters’ Tag

Skills and Stats: Some Assembly Required (Part Final)   Leave a comment

Welcome to yet another post of Gratuitous JRPG.  Last post, we covered the intricacies of equipment design–laying out the baselines for the varied pieces of equipment our cast would be acquiring and using.  At this point, the only major part of pre-production left before initial character implementation to perform is the development of skillsets.  Not the common pool of template skillsets, but the character-specific non-template skillsets.  This post will be a bit different from the rest, as I actually do not have much to go into on theory that hasn’t been covered already for the most part–and as such, the majority of the post will be dedicated to outlining the character-specific skills, with my rationale for initially designing them this way.

But first, an explanation as to why I covered the generic template spells first.  A good number of people would have designed the unique abilities first, and then left the template abilities for later.  The rationale I had for this was simple: the generic spells would be the baseline–and the general set that every enemy would use.  By setting the baseline as that, and keeping them comparably simple, I could in turn more easily make the character skills stand out more, in a direct contrast with how some half-template games allowed the template skills to overshadow the non-template abilities.  This, in turn, would both make characters more distinct and prevent marginalization of their abilities.

Furthermore, an important point is that while there may be cases of creators who literally fine-tune their games until completion (the most well-known case of this in indie gaming is likely Daisuke Amaya, better known as Pixel, the creator of the very popular Cave Story, who was quoting on saying the game was finished when it was finished), this is not an excuse to postpone a game in pre-production forever with skillset creation and tweaking.  New abilities can be easily enough added after the game is in production, and there is a point where further wait in a pre-production state will hurt a game more than help it–doubly so when it starts causing a degree of fatigue in the creator with a semblance of little to no visible progress.  This can be hard to swallow, especially for perfectionist types who want to get every single thing correct prior to production (I should know, I’m one of them), but it’s advisable if you have a significant amount already set in place to begin production.  Don’t worry, the rest can be added and tuned as need be.

With that out of the way, I’ll be covering abilities by character.  This list, as is usual with my lists, is tentative and subject to change for whatever reason I decide–usually pertaining to balance or fun.  It is also about as complete as I will be attempting to make it for the time being, so do not be surprised if additional abilities show up later on that aren’t on the current list.

Leo

Believe it or not, Leo was one of the hardest ones to devise a skillset for.  Mains without magic in a standard RPG are honestly tricky to work with, especially when you want to emphasize something as action-y as speed-based without a multihit focus.  Leo’s abilities are largely single-hit physical, with most being single-target and a few multitarget cases.  His “shock” skills, however, are a form of pseudomagic, running off of FOC and POW.  Insert your Majinken/Kuuhazan references here, and so on.  Some of these skills are extraordinarily powerful for what they do, but compensate by giving him a unique “Recovering” status that takes him out of action for the next turn–so you have to balance his ability or need to take an action next turn versus getting the extra damage now.  Abilities as follows:

  • Flash Cutter: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, has initiative over most skills.
  • Overextension Break: Offense–Single-target high physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, inflicts Recovering status on user.
  • Battalion Cutter: Offense–Multi-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.
  • [Undetermined Offense Skill–inflicts Recovering status on user]
  • [Undetermined Support Skill]
  • Blade Shock: Offense–Single-target magical damage skill.  Metal-element, runs off of POW and FOC against ARM.
  • Burst Shock: Offense–Single-target to multi-target multiphase damage skill.  Metal-element, runs off of POW and FOC against ARM, inflicts Recovering status on user
  • Trinity Shock: Offense–3x Random-target damage skill.  Metal-element, runs off of POW and FOC against ARM, inflicts Recovering status on user.
  • Stun Smash: Exceed/Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, has initiative over most skills.  Inflicts Stun status on target.
  • Zeal: Exceed/Support–Self-targeting skill, renders user immune to Recovering status for 3 turns, current included.  Instant-cast.
  • Resolve: Exceed/Support–Self-targeting skill, renders user immune to death from all sources (status and damage) for 3 turns.  Instant-cast.

Friederich

Friederich is an interesting experiment on my part: try to create a character who is largely reliant on basic attacks for damage while leaving him interesting.  Did I succeed?  That question is still up for grabs.  Friederich, in a sense, is a living example of how when you master something, you ultimately become known for doing something basic very well.  This is not to say that he lacks a skillset.  Friederich possesses two alternate attacks that are more notable for their side-effects than their damage, a small addition of Exceed abilities, and a large variety of stances which allow him to change up his abilities as needed.  Combined with being one of the most durable characters in the game, and he hopefully will be seen as potentially useful.

Note: Friederich may only use one stance per turn.

  • Sunder Weapon: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, reduces target PEN in addition to damage.
  • Sunder Armor: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, reduces target ARM in addition to damage.
  • [Undetermined Offense skill?]
  • Guard Command: Support–single-ally targeting support skill.  Puts target into “defending” state.  Has initiative over other skills.
  • Vanguard Stance: Support–self-targeting support skill.  Raises ARM and WIL, reduces EVA and MEV, raises chances of being targeted.  Cancels other stances.  Instant-cast.
  • Steadfast Stance: Support–self-targeting support skill.  Grants regeneration to user and nulls criticals, but greatly reduces FOC and reduces status resistance.  Raises chances of being targeted.  Cancels other stances.  Instant-cast.
  • Frenzied Stance: Support–self-targeting support skill.  Increases swingcount by 1, reduces critical chance to 0 and reduces PEN.  Cancels other stances.  Instant-cast.
  • Tactician’s Stance: Support–self-targeting support skill.  Increases MNT and Counter rate, but lowers POW.  Cancels other stances.  Instant-cast.
  • Berserker’s Stance: Support–self-targeting support skill.  Increases POW and Critical rate, but lowers accuracy, ARM, and WIL.  Cancels other stances.  Instant-cast.
  • Decisive Edge: Exceed/Offense–Single target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, increased damage.
  • Guard Order: Exceed/Support–Party-target support skill.  Puts entire party into “defending” state.  Has initiative over other skills.
  • Absolute Sunder: Exceed/Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, reduces target POW, PEN, ARM, FOC, EVA, and AFR.

Renaud

Renaud has had, to say the least, an interesting development period.  While I originally intended him to be status-oriented, he developed in his own way into something that could be described as an unorthodox utility fighter.  Aside from possessing the best attack for applying weapon status to multiple enemies, he possesses a variety of unusual attacks, including one that’s not dissimilar from SaGa Frontier’s Pain Doubler and an anti-armor attack.  And of course a number of status options.  Can’t be a thief without status options–well, okay, you can, but you’ll be boring beyond belief in most JRPGs’ interpretations of thieves.

  • Absolute Shot: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, ignores AFR, cannot be evaded or countered.
  • Burst Fan: Offense–Multi-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, attacks all enemies three times.
  • Insult: Offense–status skill.  Inflicts Enrage on target, increases user’s chances of being targeted
  • Scapegoat: Support?–status skill.  Raises one ally’s chances of being targeted.  Removes target rate boosting on self
  • Repossession: Miscellaneous–acquisition skill.  Steals an item from an enemy.
  • Venom Fang: Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Wood-element, may inflict Poison.
  • Viral Fang: Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Wood-element, may inflict Sickened
  • Concussive Shot: Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Weapon-element, may inflict Sleep.
  • Dust Throw: Offense–Single-target status.  Inflicts Blind on the target.
  • Aggravation Shot: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element, damage equals the difference between target’s maximum HP and current HP.  Poor accuracy and ineffective against bosses.
  • Rare Hunter: Exceed/Miscellaneous–acquisition skill.  Steals a rare item from an enemy.
  • Silencer: Exceed/Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Weapon-element, may instantly kill the target.
  • Overdrive: Exceed/Support–Self-target enhancement skill.  Grants user +4 actions next turn.

Alexis

Alexis is, simply put, a mage, and as such I’ve had to tweak some of his abilities accordingly to go with some ideas I’ve had for him.  Unlike most of the cast, he is going to have a smaller skillset–but compensate for this with ready access to higher-level abilities in Sigil Crests than other characters.  This ability, known as “High Arcana”, is innate to only two characters–Alexis and Azalea.  Outside of that, Alexis is a lot more focused on multitarget abilities than other characters, which gives him some notable utility in spite of his poor durability and mostly straightforward (nevermind hyperfocused) options.

  • Upheaval: Offense–Multi-target magical damage skill.  Earth-element.
  • [Undetermined offensive spell]
  • Crush: Offense–Single-target magical damage skill.  Deals percentile damage to target’s HP.
  • Recovery: Recovery–Multi-target recovery skill.  Heals all allies’ HP.
  • Reinforce: Support–Multi-target support skill.  Improves all allies’ AFR.
  • [Undetermined support spell]
  • Stabilize: Recovery–Multi-target recovery skill.  Cures all allies of physical conditions.
  • Expel: Recovery–Multi-target recovery skill.  Cures all allies of mental conditions.
  • Efficiency: Exceed/Support–Self-target support skill.  Halves cost of all ST-consuming abilities for 3 turns.  Instant-cast.
  • Chaincast: Exceed/Support–Self-target support skill.  Disables non-spellcasting/exceed abilities but grants +1 action/turn for the next three turns.
  • High Arcana: Character is able to use High Arcana spells and High Unleashes from Sigil Crests.

Valeska

Valeska was one of the two easier characters to devise a skillset for.  Her statistical spread can be described as “high-risk, high reward”, sporting the highest PEN of the characters, the second highest POW, and less than optimal defensive parameters.  Her skills accentuate this more, with several lowering her defenses until her next action.  Her focus is singular–killing enemies; and the tougher they are, the better she is at destroying them.  And pity the poor fool who attacks her while she’s using Charge Breaker.

  • Scale Cleaver: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.  Ignores target ARM stat.  Reduces user defenses until next action.
  • Charge Breaker: Support–Self-targeting support skill.  Gives user 100% Critical and Counter rate for the turn.  3-turn cooldown.  Has initiative.
  • Vital Crush: Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Weapon-element.  Reduces target Critical Resistance.
  • Avoidance: Support–Self-targeting support skill.  Greatly raises user’s Magic Evade for the turn.
  • Finishing Strike: Offense–Single-target physical damage/status skill.  Weapon-element.  Damage raises the closer the enemy is to death.
  • Rage Focus: Support–Self-targeting support skill.  Raises user’s PEN for next attack.
  • Death or Glory: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.  High damage.  Reduces user defenses until next action.
  • Overpenetration: Offense–Sequential-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.  Target ARM partially applies.  Followup attack on random target.  Reduces user defenses until next action.
  • Killing Drive: Exceed/Support–Self-targeting support skill.  Greatly raises user’s Critical rate for the next attack.  Instant cast.
  • Coordination: Exceed/Support–Multi-target support skill.  Raises all allies’ Critical rate for the next three turns.
  • Revenger: Exceed/Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.  Damage increases proportionally with user HP loss.

Kiri

Kiri was the first character I finished skills for, and probably the one I had the first clear idea of.  She’s a heavy fighter/mage, with a bit of an uncontrollable streak.  This is reflected in her abilities, most of which focus on random or multiple target attacks.  Her accuracy and control are bad, but she more than makes up for it in power.  And if you can set up your party to survive it, she has one of the strongest spells in the game in the form of Megido Cluster.  That is a big if, however.

  • Wild Swing: Offense–Single-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.  High variance.
  • Mad Thrash: Offense–4x Random-target physical damage skill.  Weapon-element.
  • Flare Double: Offense–2x Random-target physical damage skill.  Fire-element.  Combines POW and MNT for damage.
  • Detonation Cutter: Offense–Sequential attack skill.  Single-target physical damage followed by Multi-target magic damage.  Physical component is Weapon-element, magic component is Fire-element.
  • Berserker Roar: Offense–Multi-target status skill.  Reduces all enemies’ damage output, may force some enemies to escape.
  • Burn Raze: Offense–Multi-target magical damage skill.  Fire-element.  High base power and poor accuracy.
  • Pandemonium Firecracker: Offense–8x Random-target magical damage skill.  Fire-element.  Bad accuracy.
  • Megido Cluster: Offense–Field-target magical damage skill.  Fire-element.  Cannot be evaded or reflected.  Not subject to MFR.  Targets all except user.
  • Channeling: Exceed/Recovery–Self-targeting recovery skill.  Restores ST.
  • Berserk: Exceed/Support–Self-targeting support skill.  Inflicts Enraged (lasts until dead or dispelled), increases offensive parameters (contiguous with Enraged status)
  • Ascension: Exceed/Support/Recovery–Self-targeting support/recovery skill.  Fully heals user and inflicts transformation status upon user for five turns.  Once fifth turn has ended, transformation ends and ST is reduced to zero.

Caecilia

The other major support-oriented character, Caecilia has a problem with being almost entirely single-target with everything.  She makes up for it with power, however–she has some of the strongest healing spells, and has spells that heal and restore status at the same time.  Adding to this a small selection of support and offensive skills, and she’s a healer that I might enjoy.  The fact that she has the option of using non-staff weapons and not being terrible at it probably does not hurt.

  • Recuperation: Recovery–Single-target recovery skill.  Restores HP and cures physical status from one ally.
  • Catharsis: Recovery–Single-target recovery skill.  Restores HP and cures mental status from one ally.
  • Purge: Recovery–Single-target recovery skill.  Restores all status from one ally.
  • Restoration: Recovery–Sequential recovery skill.  Heavily restores HP to one ally, and lightly restores HP to the rest of the party.
  • Resurrection: Recovery–Single-target recovery skill.  Revives one ally and restores a large amount of HP.
  • Valiant Arms: Support–Single-target support skill.  Raises one ally’s POW and PEN.
  • Alacrity: Support–Single-target support skill.  Raises one ally’s FOC and EVA.
  • Pierce: Offense–Single-target offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Attacks enemy with increased PEN and zero variance.
  • Flurry: Offense–Single-target offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Attacks enemy with increased swingcount.
  • Thrust: Exceed/Offense–Single-target offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Instant-cast.
  • Riposte: Exceed/Support–Self-target support skill.  Greatly increases user Counter rate for three turns.
  • Assault Phalanx: Exceed/Offense–Single-target offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Modifies damage by the difference between user and enemy FOC.  Not subject to evasion, counter rate, or AFR.

Azalea

Azalea is the last character I designed, and perhaps the most difficult to work with.  In particular, I wanted to emphasize how “different” she was from the others through the most distinctive feature of PCs in a JRPG: the skillset.  As such, the best way to describe her is that a lot of her skills are put on backwards, and result in some strange usage situations for her in general.  This may make her less user-friendly, but I find it an entertaining change anyway.  She is nevertheless effective, with her Exceed abilities providing Exceed drain for enemies and a means by which to burn ST for damage–beware this if you’re uncertain about your ability to finish a fight with one character completely out of ST.  For the player wanting something more straightforward, she can also use High Arcana.

  • Fatal Strings: Offense–Multiphase physical offense skill.  Water-element.  Multitarget attack followed by 4x random attack.  Damage is based off of MNT and FOC.
  • Originator’s Regal: Offense–Single-target magical offense skill.  Water-element.  Damage is based off of POW, MNT, PEN, and FOC.
  • Nostalgic Pain: Offense–Single-target magical offense/status skill.  Weapon-element.  Damage is based off of POW and PEN.  May inflict Curse (enemy takes backlash damage) upon the target.
  • Innocent Clockworks: Support–Multi-target support skill.  Improves all allies’ MFR.
  • Scare Swallow: Offense–Single-target magical offense skill.  Wood-element.  Damage is taken against ARM.  [Additional effect pending]
  • Bondage Divider: Offense/Miscellaneous–Single-target magical offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Damage is based off of POW and PEN.  May steal an item.
  • Under The Silence: Offense–Single-target physical offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Damage is taken against WIL.  May inflict Seal.
  • Strange Moon: Offense/Recovery–Single-target physical offense skill.  Wood-element.  Damage is based off of MNT and FOC.  Recovers damage done as healing
  • Inversal Baptism: Exceed/Offense–Single-target physical offense skill.  Weapon-element.  Reduces target’s EX by 25 and blocks EX gain for their turn.  Uses POW, MNT, PEN, and FOC for damage.
  • Desperate Annullus: Exceed/Offense–Multi-target magical offense skill.  No element.  Not subject to magic evasion, reflect rate, or MFR.  Damage based on MP possessed upon casting.  Drains all of user’s MP upon use.
  • High Arcana: Character is able to use High Arcana spells and High Unleashes from Sigil Crests.

Notably, some of these skills were not on the original database, but came into being as I was listing them out.  This is a further reason why one should not spend their entire time in pre-production: sometimes one’s thought processes work better once they have been shifted over to a production mindset.  Nevertheless, as you can tell, designing the skills for these characters was a very in-depth and thorough process.  Now that the majority of basic design has been complete, it’s time to go back to writing out plot–and getting outside opinions involved.  That will come once I am done writing, but I will continue to post weekly regardless.  Until then, this is Epic Alphonse, signing out.

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Posted July 24, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

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Heretical Statements In The Name Of Game Design, Part II   Leave a comment

Welcome back to Gratuitous JRPG.  Last week, we covered some aspects of character design, including some general matters where the defaults did many, many things wrong, and laid down stats for the currently existing characters in the game.  This week will go over the topics of equipment and skillsets, two more defining matters of a RPG, as well as look into the wildly varying ways to handle both.

Two posts ago, we went into the idea that all equipment would largely cover partial customization.  We’re finally going to go in-depth on what pieces of equipment go where on who, and manage what they do at that.  First, notably, is the decision made here that everyone will share equipment classes to some degree.  This is most definitely not needed; as said previously, sharing weapon classes is not customization.  However, this does open up a number of factors.  The first and foremost being that equipment will need to be balanced for all their users, as opposed to just one; a piece of gear that works one way for one person might end up overpowered in someone else’s hands.  The second is that it opens up the possibility of unique (that is to say, singular on a given playthrough) weapons or armor with the potential for multiple users, forcing the player to decide on a user, or giving them the chance to use the weapon as long as they use one of the prospective wielders.  The last is that it does affect the decision as to whether one wishes to give each character any definitive “ultimate” equipment or not, as the presence thereof would negate the previ0us decision-making.  Given my preferences, I am perfectly fine with not giving ultimates out, so the decision on shared types stands.

We are jumping the gun here, however.  An equally important question is simply “what equipment slots do characters have?”  This is an important question to consider, if only because there is no point in coming up with helmets or shields if you decide the only things a character can use are a weapon, body armor, and an accessory.  The point is rather self-explanatory, but for the sake of illustration, RMVXA’s defaults utilize a selection of weapon, shield, armor, helmet, and accessory.  This game deviates slightly from this in manners that will be shown soon, with equipment slots for a given character designated as Main Hand, Off Hand, Head, Body, Accessory, and two Sigils.

This will bring us to what will fill these slots.  As stated before, there will be multiple equipment classes, which will in turn be shared between characters.  For an example of how RMVXA’s defaults handle equipment, each character gets access to one and only one weapon type, and then access to both “General” armor and at least one of “Magic”, “Light”, or “Heavy” armors–these cover both body armor and headgear.  Some characters then get access to either light, or all shields, and then all characters can use an accessory.  The armor classes do not differ wildly across types; “Magic” armor grants magic power, magic defense, and elemental resistances at higher tiers in exchange for physical defense, “Light” armor is dead average, and “Heavy” armor sacrifices very marginal amounts of basic attack speed and evasion for improved physical defense.  Needless to say, a case where there’s design issues once more, since there is zero reason not to use heavy armor when possible.

This game will be handled differently, and as such a breakdown of equipment would happen to be in order.  This will be notably long and in-depth, but I will try to keep matters organized as much as possible;

Weapons:

  • Heavy Swords: This category covers your archetypal longswords, alongside their two-handed varieties.  In short, think of every standard RPG sword.  This will have above-average power, but below-average penetration.  The two-handed versions, of course, hurt more but take up your off-hand slot.  These will range from two to three swings on a basic attack
  • Spears: All of these are two-handed, and they’re notable for having the best armor penetration in the game.  Power hovers around average, but servicable for how well they get through enemy defense.  Two swings.
  • Axes/Hammers: These two are clustered together on the basis that they all have the same users, and these are another two-handed weapon category.  Axes enjoy very high power, a boosted critical rate, and subpar penetration.  Hammers sacrifice the critical rate for improved armor penetration.  They suffer minor accuracy problems, however, and only get two swings on a basic.
  • Knives: Light and fast weapons, knives are low on power and not good at getting through armor, but they make up for it with a boosted critical rate and a high swingcount at four–making them the easiest to build up Exceed with, though you’ll lose out on power with them that way.
  • Bows: Bows are a special type of weapon.  Below-average damage, above-average penetration, and their attacks have initiative.  On top of that, equipping a bow allows one to use off-hand arrows, which are detailed below.  Three swings on a basic.
  • Staves: Staves are the defensive weapon choice of the lot.  Below-average damage and penetration, they provide a notable evasion boost to those who can equip them, ensuring a greater amount of survivability.  They give three swings on a basic attack.
  • Light Swords: This covers rapiers, epees, and the family of fencing swords, these weapons sport average damage and above-average penetration.  Their attacks give three swings, but they’re more notable for the fact that they give access to off-hand daggers, which are also detailed below.

Off-Hand Items:

  • Shields: The ubiquitous off-hand item, these are nice little evasion- and resistance-granting boons to the people who can use them.  Those people do have to sacrifice the benefits of their heavier weapons or more offense-oriented  gear to take advantage of this, however.
  • Gauntlets: These are another off-hand item, allowing for minor defensive or offensive benefits when equipped.  Same caveat as the shields, though more people can use them, and thus the restrictions don’t hurt as badly.
  • Foci: Spell focuses!  The offensive choice for mages.  They take a bunch of forms but basically have the general tendency to improve properties of spells one way or another
  • Arrows: Only usable with a bow in the main hand, arrows add extra elemental and status properties to bow attacks.  They’re a good way of getting some tricks on the bow-users you normally can’t, so try and experiment.
  • Off-hand Daggers: Only usable with a light sword in the main hand, off-hand daggers have the benefit of adding an extra bit of punch on top of giving secondary benefits.  While arrows give elements and status, daggers give other mechanical bonuses that you’re less likely to see on an off-hand item.

Body Armor:

  • Heavy Armor:Covers mail armors.  This armor is about what you’d expect, heavy, metallic, and damn good at taking hits.  Provides the most ARM out of any of the armor types.
  • Medium Armor:Covers leather and other such armors.  While providing a minor amount of ARM, medium armor is better at lessening the impact of attacks than nulling them altogether, giving a percentile reduction to attacks.
  • Light Armor:Largely covering cloth armors, while this may cover some robes, it also handles cloaks and the like as well.  Split between evasion-based and magical defense-based armors.

Headgear:

  • Helmets:To give you a harder head, no matter how hard it already is.  They provide some extra ARM and sometimes other benefits.
  • Hats:They’re fancy!  They’re well-sought commodities on TF2!  They’re hats!  And they largely give status protection along a minor base defensive boost.
  • Circlets: Circlets are the favored headwear of magicians who are looking for a trinket to help with their willpower and ability to focus.  A number of these tend to be elementally-aligned in some capacity as well.

Other:

  • Accessories: Only enough room for one, each character can use any of these, which provide a myriad of oddball benefits.
  • Sigil Crests: Each character can use two of these, which provide notable statistical modifiers on top of spells and even Exceed abilities!

02879188-photo-resonance-of-fate

Guess the relevance of this pic, win a prize!  No really, go ahead and guess it. (Disclaimer: I don’t have any real prizes to give)

Similarly, there’s the list of who gets what equipment, though this one is thankfully much more concise than the last.  I’ll spare the rationales for this one on the basis that it kind of breaks up the list in this case, but needless to say that they feel to me like they fit the characters.

  • Leo: Heavy Swords, Spears, Heavy Armor, Medium Armor, Helmets, Hats, Shields, Gauntlets
  • Friederich: Heavy Swords, Spears, Axes, Heavy Armor, Helmets, Shields, Gauntlets
  • Renaud: Knives, Bows, Medium Armor, Light Armor, Hats, Gauntlets, Arrows
  • Alexis: Knives, Staves, Light Armor, Hats, Circlets, Foci
  • Valeska: Spears, Axes, Medium Armor, Helmets, Hats
  • Kiri: Heavy Swords, Axes, Heavy Armor, Hats, Circlets, Gauntlets
  • Caecilia: Light Swords, Staves, Medium Armor, Light Armor, Circlets, Foci, Off-hand Daggers

Okay, so that’s a rather exhaustive list of equipment types and who gets what.  But that last note about sigils is a good point on which to start on the next point: Innate versus Template skill systems.  The question of whether to have characters possess their own distinct skills, be blank slates that can be customized, or a mix of the two.  On the innate end, you have games like Phantasy Star 4, the Shining Force games, and Final Fantasy 4, as well as the RMVXA defaults.  On the other hand, you have template systems like the third and fifth Wild ARMs games, and Final Fantasy 7 and Tactics.  And then somewhere in the middle, one has what can be described as “half-template” games, which offer characters with distinct skillsets, but also a template upon which to build more.  Examples of this include Final Fantasy 6 and the PSX remake of Lunar:Eternal Blue.  This latter setup is notably difficult, and I am going to go out on a limb here, but Final Fantasy 6’s handling of its own half-template system is an example of why it’s not as good of a game as a large number of people remember it to be.

angry-mob-320x190

Woah, hold on, not yet!  Let me explain!

Before the Final Fantasy 6 fans among my readers go out of their way to hunt me down and kill me, allow me to elaborate on why.  Anyone familiar with Final Fantasy 6’s setup recognizes that there are functionally two halves to a character’s skillset: the innate half, which varies from character to character, and the half learned through magicite, which is the template half.  Now, the problems with how FF6 handles its skill systems can be boiled down to three major issues: Redundancy, Tiering, and Obsolescence.  Redundancy in that a large number of the same things the innate skills do are covered by magic.  Tiering insofar that there are tiered skills within the template abilities that are far and ahead better than most others (Ultima in particular comes to mind, nevermind things like Quick).  And  lastly, Obsolescence in that there is very little that the innate skills can do better than magic.  The lattermost can be illustrated in particular by several characters who have either redundant innate skills (Sabin, Shadow), innate skills that largely are the template skills (Terra, Celes), or innate skills that are flat-out not useful (Celes, Locke, Cyan, Relm when not glitching the game, Edgar about half the time) or abysmally documented (Gau) by the game in practice.

So, what is my point in picking Final Fantasy 6 apart to the chagrin of its fans everywhere?  When constructing innate skillsets in a half-template system, let those skills be the ones that stand out, rather than being overshadowed by the template skills.  The latter should be decent for customization and filling in gaps, not for subsuming what makes the character unique.  I’m going to pains to point this out in part because the sigils are my own attempt of constructing a half-template system for skillsets within my game.  For those familiar, consider it a mix between Wild ARMs games 3 and 4.  For those not familiar, consider that each character can equip two Sigil Crests.  Each of these Sigil Crests provides a minor statistical bonus based on the crest itself, a small grouping of spells unique to itself, and one Exceed ability unique to itself.  However, each character retains their innate abilities in turn, which cover a wider variety of abilities than what the crests do.

At this point, I feel that it would be relevant to flesh out the current characters’ skillsets in general terms; I am nowhere near the point of constructing individual skillsets, but I can go to the point of outlining what they’d be able to do.  In addition, I can conclude that with sigils, I can make individual skillsets smaller, tentatively aiming for roughly eight innate skills and three Exceed skills on average, with some room for variation.  But these are only statements for future intent.  I encourage those of you following along with your own projects to try your hand at this for your characters.  Getting to the skillsets:

  • Leo: Leo’s skillset was the hardest one for me to come up with.  In general, he focuses a good deal on fast single strikes, with many of his moves having initiative.  In addition, he possesses a small number of pseudomagic shockwave attacks.  It may be a cop-out, but it’s a JRPG, someone needs to have a projectile shockwave attack from swinging their sword just the right way.  In addition, he can get a bit evasive when he wants to…
  • Friederich: Friederich’s skillset is an unusual one.  To say the least, his main source of damage outside of his 25-EX skill is simply the use of basic physicals.  However, this does not mean that he’s stuck with a lack of a skillset.  With a couple of physical stat-debuffs alongside a large variety of free-action stances to modify his attack and defenses in a variety of ways on the fly, Friederich shouldn’t be underestimated just because he lacks a variety of damage skills.
  • Renaud: Renaud’s a scoundrel, and that is ultimately reflected in his fighting style.  Needless to say, he fights dirty, using cheap shots, precision attacks, tricks, poisons, and whatever else he can get his hands on to turn a fight to his favor.  In short, status, and a good deal of it.  And of course, filching from an enemy or two doesn’t hurt in his eyes.  After all, it’s all for profit.
  • Alexis: It is fairly obvious that Alexis is a mage, so it’s not surprising that this would show in his skillset–nothing but magic.  Possessing a small count of elemental spells on top of party support abilities, Alexis is more built for group support, and this shows in his healing and buffing options, having the only pure multitarget heal in the game.  His Exceed abilities reflect this as well, though he will be getting notable extra abilities from Sigils compared to other characters.
  • Valeska:Valeska’s skillset can be summed up in a few ways.  Defense-piercing, high-power, focused skills that focus on killing the enemy above all else.  Factor in some notable offensive buffs and one tricky anti-magic ability and it becomes apparent that she is very good at what she does, and what she does is kill things.  Painfully.
  • Kiri:Kiri is unfocused, to say the least.  Not to say that she has a smattering of everything, but her abilities tend toward smashing as many things as possible with little regard for accuracy.  This shows in less-than-accurate skills, random-targeting skills, and group-targeting effects.  All the time she uses and blends both physical and magical power, with chained and composite effects, in her powerful but indiscriminate abilities.
  • Caecilia:Caecilia’s “theme” for her abilities can be summed up in one word: Dueling.  While she has been trained in both magic, having a repertoire of some useful buffing and healing spells, and swordsmanship, her skills are almost exclusively single-target.  As such, she may not be the best at handling groups, but single enemies are well within her ability to handle, with the ability to land strings of piercing blows, bleeding strikes, and deft ripostes among other abilities.

And that’s that for character skillset concepting.  Further down the road these skills will be properly quantified, but as with the rest of the concepting phases, this is satisfactory for the time being.  Skillsets are a very important tool to flesh out characters, and may possibly require the most attention out of anything in a game.  However, considering these skills means covering another matter of JRPGs that has been left uncovered as of now: the wide world of status effects.  However, that is a topic for next time.  As such, this is Epic Alphonse, signing out.

Posted June 2, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

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Heretical Statements In The Name Of Game Design, Part I   Leave a comment

Welcome back to Gratuitous JRPG.  Last week, we covered a few fundamentals of game system design, largely independent from the characters; scope of challenge, standardized damage formulas, action management, elements, and a very brief stint on equipment were all covered.  In addition, all of these matters were determined for the game.  For the most part, this week’s post will cover more of the same, only more specifically in regards to the player characters, or PCs for short, where we start to tie together the plot and gameplay some more.

First, however, we must address the resource paradigm of the game.  Most RPGs have a variety of resources available, and in fact every single game can be defined as an interaction of resources on multiple ends to achieve competing goals.  However, RPGs are notable in that these resources are the more direct focus of the combat within.  For our purposes, we can assume there are two sorts of resources; active resources, which you spend to accomplish effects, and passive resources, which are not directly spent by the player but affected by outside actions.  In a standard RPG, MP would be an active resource, while HP a passive one.  Furthermore, all games have actions as an active resource, which will go later into why effects that boost actions should be tightly controlled.

And here is where I must go into a major point regarding the design of the RPG Maker defaults: by defaults, I do not mean the RTP, but the entire setup that comes with every blank new project you create in a RM game; characters, enemies, skills, and so on.  They are not well-designed for a game.  This is not to say they do not serve a purpose.  After all, they do let you see how varied effects are supposed to work in RPG Maker.  In that extent, to aid the people who have not made a RPG Maker game for the first time, they serve their purpose.  For the purpose of functioning as a well-put-together game?  They’re terrible, and provably so on the basis of the maker’s default resource paradigm.

In RPG Maker VX Ace, the default characters’ active resources are MP, TP, items, and actions, and your passive resource is your HP.  MP behaves about as one would expect, but the real issue is in how TP acts.  How one acquires TP is defined as such: A character at the beginning of a fight is given a random quantity between 0 and 25.  Ignoring this random factor, a character may gain 5 TP from using and hitting with a basic physical, 4 TP from guarding, and a quantity based on what appears to be the damage taken when one gets hit compared to the character’s maximum HP.  In essence, a character will gain, at most, 5 TP a round via actions in the player’s control.

BadDesign1

Poor Natalie is going to average two basic attacks for every technique, more likely than not.  God help her if she wants to use Claw Dance.

This is not the only problem, as you can see.  The real issue comes out in the skill distribution, something that I will cover later but deserves mention now for the purposes of demonstration.  Eric and Natalie, as fighter-types, each have five TP-costing skills.  These five skills all depend on Eric and Natalie repeatedly using basic attacks and getting hit repeatedly.  This, in effect, makes them very not fun to play as their utility lies in basic physicals first, and techniques that largely do more of the same thing second.  And then there’s the problem with mages.

BadDesign2 BadDesign3

Here’s a pop quiz: Which of these abilities on the left image will allow Noah to build up TP for any of the abilities in the right image?  Answers below.

Mages in RPG Maker VX Ace’s default settings face a quandary.  They have magic, which is largely their most useful ability.  At the same time, however, the only ways to build up TP for their TP-using abilities are those listed above: basic attacks, guarding, and getting hit.  Unlike the fighters, the mages have a reduced chance of being targeted to begin with, and their physical stats are abysmal.  In essence, they have to be ineffective to be able to facilitate the use of their TP skills, which then begs the question of why they aren’t using their magic to begin with?  So either the mage is useless, or the skills end up regularly pointless due to unusability.  Some logic brings forth why the defaults are a bad reference for design.

This goes back to my game and its defined resource paradigm–and to be precise, what it does differently.  Active resources include Stamina (ST), Exceed (EX), Items, and actions, while passive resources include HP.  Characters start battle with 0 EX, and stamina is maintained until restored at a rest point such as an inn.  Exceed is gained via varied attacks (basic and non-basic, with variance based on the ability or weapon used among other matters),  andtaking hits(Fixed value per hit)  Notably involved in this is the fact that while basic attacks do have their uses in building EX, they are not the only means by which to actively do so, and thus mages can use EX-costing abilities without the need to resort to nigh-ineffective at best basic attacks.  Furthermore, EX is not used to differentiate magic abilities from physical, instead being reserved for the sort of high-cost pinch abilities one would need to build up for, like Force powers in the Wild ARMs series.  Physical specials, just like magic, cost ST, thus allowing the physical characters to be able to access their skillset more than once every three turns on average.  For later reference, this does mean that skills will largely play heavily into a character’s capabilities.

With the subject of resource paradigms out of the way, we now finally reach the subject of approaching our PCs from the gameplay side.  Having laid most of the groundwork to do this in the last two weeks (character work and base stats), it goes to no surprise that this is a much simpler task for that.  When determining the gameplay side of your PCs, two very simple rules will apply.  The first is to keep it fitting to the character: obviously you shouldn’t do something like make your armor-clad guy the most frail thing ever that will die from so much as being kicked by a monster (hi, Knight from The Demon Rush.  You are an example of this and only a fraction of why that game is terrible), but in the details, integrating plot-relevant abilities or fitting their stat build to their quirks are positive examples that don’t come up too often–one can look to the Wild ARMs series for this, particularly Wild ARMs 4, which does this not only for the PCs, but also the antagonists.  Such building helps further integrate the narrative and gameplay, which is always a benefit in the case of JRPGs.

The second matter is character variety, and this is another spot where once again, the defaults of RPG Maker VX Ace fail.  Ideally, you want notable variation between characters in a JRPG.  Games with a larger cast size such as the Suikoden series can get away with less variance between characters, as can strategy RPGs such as the Shining Force or Fire Emblem series,  but this is assuming a PC cast size of well over what could be considered normal in a JRPG.  So where do RMVXA’s defaults fail in this regard?

In function, while the defaults offer ten different characters, each with their own “class”, there are only four functional types of characters within the defaults: Fighters, Healers, Mages, and Hybrids.  Fighters rely on nothing but basic attacks, with the aforementioned inability to quickly access higher-cost TP abilities.  Healers have a set of skills dedicated specifically to healing and buffing allies, with next to no offense at all.  Mages have the generally-useful spells, but lack access to their TP abilities without greatly impacting their general usefulness.  And lastly, hybrids are a combination of two or more, either sporting both a viable physical attack and an actual set of usable spells, or sporting a spellset that covers both healing and offense.

Quiz1 Quiz2 Quiz3 Quiz4

Pop quiz the second: Looking at the skillsets and only the skillsets, can you guess which is which?

Now, how this translates across VX Ace is as follows: There are five characters that fit the “Fighter” model, one proper mage, one proper healer, and three hybrids, one of each type (fighter-mage, fighter-healer, mage-healer).  The problems with variety quickly become apparent as all of the fighters play functionally the same; one technique for every two basic physicals minimum, and even worse should one want the higher skills to see use.  When half your cast is not only the same, but also the least interesting style possible, there are problems.  And in reality, most players would want to play the same party for the entire time.

BadDesign4

Meet the Most Entertaining Default Party Possible.  This is not even an exaggeration.

When one would likely prefer 40% of your cast over the other 60% for gameplay purposes, there is a notable problem.  I could probably write a dissertation on the things that RPG Maker VX Ace does wrong with its defaults, but suffice it to say the point on character variety can be summed up as such: Make your characters functionally distinct in gameplay while attempting to ensure that no one character is far more or less interesting to play than the others in practice.  If this seems like a hard thing, just keep in mind that Wizards of the Coast took until D&D 4e to get this, and then forgot it when making Essentials.  It does not appear to be common knowledge, to say the least.

After the thorough breakdown of the VX Ace defaults, we are now finally ready for the actual stat allocation for the in-development game’s current characters.  Keeping in mind that these are extremely relative values for the time being, I will be rating each of the major stats on a six-point scale, with 6 being highest.  The scale is deliberate in this case; i find that in my attempts to allocate stats, whenever I pick an odd-numbered scale I suffer from a case of centration bias, gravitating towards the most central and “neutral” options.  If you find yourself seeing too many “average” values in your own game’s cast, try something along those lines to see if that encourages more varied distributions.  But enough postulating about statistical variance when there are characters to detail:

Leo: Our main character, and he’s a bit of a punk.  A very physical-oriented character, he’s more of a doer than a thinker, and I want this to show in his stats.  He largely remains physically above-average, with the exception of his speed which is definitely more on the high end, and his magical ability is comparably…bad and he’s a bit unskilled.  As such we will get the following results:

  • HP 4, ST 3, POW 4, ARM 4, PEN 3, MNT 2, WIL 3, FOC 5

Friedrich: Our first character to join the party from the beginning, Friederich is what you’d expect from a seasoned knight.  Old, tough, a bit more refined in his combat style than Leo, and he’s tenacious.  However, to balance things out, I feel he should be the sort who will -never- be good at magic, ever, and he has a bit of a shallow resource pool by comparison.  In addition, -slow-, which I can easily write off that as a byproduct of old age.  He’s not in his prime anymore, so things are going to be harder and harder.  Still a tough old geezer, though.

  • HP 5, ST 3, POW 3, ARM 6, PEN 4, MNT 1, WIL 4, FOC 1

Renaud: Technically he won’t permanently join until later, but Renaud does temporarily join up during the first dungeon.  First thing is first about him, he’s fast.  As in, speediest in the cast, without a doubt.  Our favorite reappropriator will be getting what I’d like to call the Gallows treatment, where he’ll have disproportionate HP to his actual durability.  This provides some minor cosmetic differentiation in stats.  He’s largely subpar at offense, though not a bad mage, and to counteract his high HP he’ll have bad and worse defensive stats.  His other high end, however, is Stamina, allowing him to take advantage of whatever bag of tricks he will eventually have.

  • HP 5, ST 5, POW 3, ARM 2, PEN 3, MNT 3, WIL 1, FOC 6

Alexis: He’s pretty straightforward.  Our favorite teen prodigy mage is about what you’d expect from a magic-user.  Most definitely on the frail and weak side physically, he makes up for it in being a very competent mage.  Mental prowess is a factor, as is will, affecting his magical defenses.  And lastly, I suspect he knows a few tricks to get around any possible costs of exhaustion related to magic.  A bit slow and maybe a bit scatterbrained, though.

  • HP 3, ST 5, POW 2, ARM 2, PEN 2, MNT 6, WIL 5, FOC 3

Valeska: Valeska, to say the least, has focused her rage and anger into sheer killing power.  This is reflected in her stats, where she sacrifices her other parameters in exchange for higher power and penetration–she’s the sort who believes that the best defense is a dead opponent.  Unfortunately, she is a bit slow, and her magical everything on the side of lacking.

  • HP 3, ST 4, POW 5, ARM 4, PEN 6, MNT 2, WIL 2, FOC 2

Kiri: Kiri was fun to think of.  She’s a tank with a twist–her nature as a dragon makes her particularly open to magic in general, and vulnerable to magic attacks in particular–as such, she has a higher WIL than would be expected of her, but anything that gets through deals double damage.  On top of that, her low ST less represents a lack of stamina, and more of the fact that she expends a lot more energy than she’d need to with her abilities.  She’s amazingly strong and durable fitting her species, but also woefully unskilled.

  • HP 6, ST 1, POW 6, ARM 4, PEN 3, MNT 5, WIL 4, FOC 2 (Special: MFR base 200)

Caecilia: Caecilia’s not a helpless princess.  While she’s not able to take a hit too well, she’s fast and skilled at getting through armor, and she’s not a slouch in magic.  However, I do admit that I altered her stats a bit to make her extremely resistant to magic–it filled a gameplay niche that was missing and isn’t necessarily completely out of the blue.  After all, she received a lot of training while growing up.

  • HP 2, ST 2, POW 2, ARM 3, PEN 5, MNT 4, WIL 6, FOC 4

And with that, all seven released characters have been given relative and approximate stat ratings.  Keep in mind that these don’t factor in equipment or skillsets, and are subject to change in the future.  Balancing isn’t something that comes easy to any game, and this is no exception.  Next week, we will be covering part three of character design: equipment and skillset enumeration, more of the fun parts of RPG design.  Until then, this is Epic Alphonse, signing out.

Posted May 26, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

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Insert (Overly Long) Traveling Salesman Montage Here   Leave a comment

Welcome back to another post of Gratuitous JRPG.  Last week we covered the basic brainstorming behind a plot, and the game acquired a set of prospective characters.  Now, we’ll start fleshing them out a bit more.  But not before going into a bit of why it’s so important to consider characters as their own section as opposed to integrating them with plot or writing alone.

Characterization is, in essence, quite possibly one of the most important distinctions most RPGs have over games of other genres.  Of course this is not to say that non-RPGs do not have characters at all–after all, we are all familiar with such figures as Mario, Sonic, Link, and Rockman.  However, the differences involved are notable: For a long time, these characters were less known for their interactions with other characters, and more for either being an icon to the series they star in, or for a pre-set “attitude” they possess.  It wasn’t until later that interactions started being largely notable for the non-RPG games.  As for RPGs, those interactions started becoming emblematic of the genre around the 16-bit era–look at the Final Fantasies 4-6, Chrono Trigger, and Phantasy Star 4 for notable examples here, especially the last one–yes, I will be referencing Phantasy Star 4 a lot in this blog, be warned.

How best do you go about starting character interaction?  The answer is simply to have characters who will functionally bounce off of one another.  This has been gone over in other tutorials (check out Part 3 of Nick Palmer’s RMVXA tutorial for a brief look at character variety), but the point is that if everyone is the same, or too easily within agreement without some means by which to play off of each other, characters will not interact in an interesting and meaningful way.  If they do not do that, you in turn lose the potential to further draw players into the world, and in turn, the game.

But this digression on variety is tangential to the real matter of the post: actually creating characters.  If you’ve gone through the plot creation featured in the previous entry, you will already have a variety of positions where characters are obviously needed to be filled, playable characters particularly included.  At this point, you want to think about these characters in particular, who they are, where they come from, and how they fight, among other matters.  And here is where the matter will end up ultimately getting complicated and yet beneficial–you will not be able to extract the characters, particularly the playable and fought ones, from either the plot or the gameplay ends of your game.  To be more precise, the entirety, if not the majority, of all plot and gameplay integration will occur through the characters.  You can see this below, in fact.

vennthingy

No, really, this is pretty much just one of those Venn Diagrams used to illustrate the point.

Diagrams aside, the point is fairly clear.  The characters’ abilities influence their gameplay in effect, and given that the world is seen through the eyes of and the plot acted upon by the characters, they are the player’s window into the game in the genre.  This is the best way upon which to elaborate the point, and so feel free to extrapolate upon the plot and setting when developing these characters.  In fact, I would encourage such an act, since such connects them to the setting and world, making them further integrated into the whole.  However, by contrast, keep combat ability in general terms rather than specific; you haven’t decided entirely on gameplay yet if you’re following this, and even if you have some mechanical ideas you don’t want to let them inform your characters.  There are other, better ways to fill gameplay niches in a JRPG than creating a character to specifically fill one, notably.  If you’re not sure about what I mean by general terms, look a bit further ahead in the post.

On a similar note, a bit must be said for names: while in theory you could put some names off (naming your game?  Not important), you actually want to come up with character names pretty quickly, since names will aid in informing you about your character’s image, and furthermore make it easier to write about them as people.  If you have doubts about this, then try a mental experiment: Pick someone with a name, any name, and then pick someone only labeled [Main] or [PC 1] or [NPC] or [Villain], or something of the such.  Then try writing about either.  Which do you find it easier to write about?  If you suspect the named person is easier to write about, congratulations, you get why naming characters is important.  Have trouble with coming up with names?  Look some up on a name site–your preferred name site will work more than well enough.

On a tangent with names, you want to fit the name to the character.  Naming a random dude “Renvach von Floofenheimer III Esq.” for the sake of it will get awkward laughs at best, and derision and dismissal at worst.  At the same time?  Avoid the generics.  Overly simple names like “Bob” or whatnot.  If you must use those, at least work with the long form.  It comes off as generic, and to be honest, it’s hard to make an interesting story about a generic person.  And lastly, try to avoid major characters with too similar-sounding names.  It gets samey if done too much and might end up, once again, breaking interest.

I suppose enough rambling has gone on about character creation without submitting the next step in my games.  In the meantime, I’ve extrapolated on seven playable characters, with intent for an eighth that hasn’t quite been fleshed out enough yet.  As follows are the seven prospective PCs, listed in order of conceptualization, along with my ramblings on setting as I fleshed them out with it, and their placement as characters along with it.

Leo – The main character of the game, and the aforementioned “knight”.  I decided that he’d be closer to a squire at the start of the game, and worked with it from there.  The kingdom he’s in employ of (Zeisrell) handles its knights thusly: Children are handed over to join the knighthood, along with payment to handle training and equipment, making it a domain of the nobility and very rich–and those children are essentially cut off from their family name and inheritance, a symbolic statement that the knighthood will serve the kingdom through their own strength, without the need for outside assistance.  Leo is the third son to a noble family, and was a good bit of a troublemaker in his childhood, so he was sent off as someone who wasn’t worth the trouble.  By the start of the game, he’s about 17, and is brash, headstrong, and always feels like he’s got something to prove,, easily baited into challenges just to prove that he -can- pull it off.  Fitting that to an extent, he’s a physical fighter–on the fast side, at that.

“Kiri” – The second character concepted, the dragon in question, Kiri, as the shortened name she gives, is about 350 years old, and keeper of a hoard of magical objects, including an artifact handed over to her by one of the kings of Zeisrell approximately 170 years before the start of the game (As for why, I haven’t decided yet, but I’m thinking safekeeping of sorts).  I decided here to flesh out a number of details about dragons in this setting–they’re not common, they have humanoid forms that are generally used not for blending into other societies, but instead as energy-efficient forms.  Dragons in this are magical creatures in that they have the binary form matter on top of innate magical ability, but they take a LOT of energy to keep going, so when they’re running low they’ll reflexively switch to their humanoid form–and dragons hoard magic items rather than gold because they help sustain themselves off of the ambient magic of the collected objects, so it’s not just a greed thing.  Regardless, she and Leo eventually do fight after Leo goes on a quest to kill her and retrieve said artifact.  But after the fight’s interrupted between the two, a ritual’s done that binds her life to Leo’s–and this doesn’t please her one bit.  She’s got a gigantic ego, a good bit of a short temper, and a blunt streak, not exactly caring about whatever she says.  So she’s actually kind of a gigantic jerk as well, and will have some friction with Leo once the two are bound.  In combat, she’s a heavy fighter/mage hybrid, who can take hits as well as she can give, and then some, albeit very very graceless in her style.

Princess Caecilia Lieselotte Zeisrea – The princess in question, and yes she does become a playable character.  The sole surviving child of the now terribly ill King Everard Tiedemann Zeisrea, Caecilia is not the model of your standard ineffective princess, nor is she the rebellious sort, instead having been raised to rule the kingdom of Zeisrell when the time comes.  As such, she has been taught in a variety of matters, including combat and a dabbling in magic, and thusly is nowhere near helpless in a fight.  Putting herself in the position of a leader, however, she will often come off as cold and aloof, and does not tolerate fools well.  In combat, she’s another fighter-caster hybrid, with a good bit of speed on her end.

Friedrich – When deciding on Leo’s background, I knew I needed some sort of structure to the program, and figured that squires on the late end of their training would be mentored under higher-ranking knights.  Thus, I needed such a figure for Leo, and Friedrich was created as a result.  One of the older knights in Zeisrell, Friedrich is a stern teacher who is more than willing to call his pupils out on their mistakes, but he knows what he’s doing with a notable field record and a good number of squires mentored.  He holds his beliefs first and foremost, that success comes from one’s own strength, and not anything else, which may rub some the wrong way.  He starts out the game accompanying Leo for a bit, but then leaves for a good while not too long after, functioning as the earlygame crutch character.  In combat, he’s a heavy fighter bar none, and will go down to very little.

Alexis Schaldeite – Alexis is a young magical prodigy–one of the youngest full mages in Zeisrell at the age of 16.  He is notably well-studied in a variety of magic, but has been cloistered for most of his life.  However, his status has made him into a bit of a know-it-all, and is sent on a mission with Leo once he attains knighthood to leave the rest of the academia and their theories alone.  In reality, I came up with him when I discovered that I needed someone to cast the plot-important binding ritual, so I needed some sort of magic-capable person.  A very green teen prodigy would be the perfect selection for this, as I needed someone who would know about, and possibly even how to do the ritual, but yet be liable to lose his cool enough to decide it’s the best option, and I feel I already have my old man player character quota filled with Friedrich anyway–I never was a fan of the classical wizard image anyway, so this is an added benefit.  As stated before, he’s a well-studied, naive, know-it-all.  In combat, he’s about what you’d expect; a pure mage with a variety of spells and the squishiness to boot.

Renaud Vertstil – Renaud is half sellsword, half treasure hunter, and all financially motivated with some very, very bad luck on the side.  In practice, he engages in the Lina Inverse-esque philosophy of “rob from bandits to give to oneself”, and is from a neighboring country with shaky relations to Zeisrell.  This ultimately leads to him crossing paths with Leo, coincidentally or not, and while he’s a bit of a scoundrel, he’s got his reasons.  I am guilty of inventing him first to help fill party slots when Leo would otherwise be alone, but I feel his personality and way of life would interestingly bounce off of some of the other characters well enough.  In-combat, he’s a flat-out speedster, and another pure physical sort.

Valeska Kierschav – First off, a nod and a bit of thanks to my friend Ish for inspiring this character for me.  Valeska is a professional dragonslayer from another country, who is embittered with life in general and once sought to avenge the death of her loved one at the hands of a dragon, but over the years has expanded this into an all-encompassing hate of them.  The sort of person who won’t take shit from anyone, Valeska’s a bit humorless to say the least.  I feel she fills a unique niche in the party dynamic, alongside offering an interesting contrast to Leo and his initial quest.  In combat, she goes for pure power, sacrificing defense for sheer killing force.

This is every PC I’ve come up with so far.  The rationales may not have been necessary to write down, but they do show the thought processes behind the characters, and that is something I want to include on these posts here.  However, my work has only just begun.  With a mystery eighth player character in development, alongside a number of other characters from NPCs to antagonists, the work of character design is not easy at all–but it is rewarding once it all starts to come together for a game.  Planned for next week is my start of the gameplay concepting segment, where I determine some core details of the game, and take a look at several notable, but possibly overlooked aspects of JRPG design.

Posted May 13, 2013 by EpicAlphonse in Uncategorized

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